Routes covering country: France

Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide
Route 9 takes in some of the finest townscapes and countryside in Normandy. It is one of the shorter adventures in Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide, but one that lends itself to those who prefer to travel spontaneously.
Route 10 in Europe by Rail is for those less inclined to hurry. It is a leisurely amble through some of Atlantic Europe’s most striking cultural landscapes: the Loire Valley, Aquitaine and the Basque region.
The route we follow here from Paris to Barcelona is a more traditional approach to the Pyrenees and northern Spain, one much favoured by travellers of yesteryear. It criss-crosses France's Route Nationale 20 more than a dozen times.
The train journey from Geneva to Barcelona is one of the finest excursions in this volume. It is a good practical way of covering a lot of ground, but it also takes in a wonderful medley of landscapes.
Route 17 in Europe by Rail is short and sweet, taking in a feast of fine cities as well as, especially in the early stages, some engaging rustic landscapes. It’s not a route where you need ever bother about advance booking and for holders of Interrail or Eurail passes, there are no supplements to pay.
Lille and Cologne are two cities with very strong regional identities within their respective countries, but they could scarcely be more different. Lille is altogether more downbeat - and is radical while Cologne is conformist.
Fifty years ago, the direct train to Basel stayed entirely west of the Rhine, traversing Belgium, Luxembourg and France along the way. The through trains have gone, but the railways are still there. Regular regional trains – all offering a high level of comfort – still ply the entire route.
It was the railway which created the Riviera and by 1874 it was possible to travel by train all the way from Nice to Pisa. Just grab a seat on the seaward side of the train and sit back as we cruise along the coast from France into Italy.
This first journey to France in Europe by Rail starts at London’s St Pancras station, as inspiring a space as any cathedral. After a fast dash to Paris on Eurostar we continue south to the Mediterranean.
The journey we describe in Route 7 is the classic line south from Paris (via Sens and Dijon), which is dubbed the Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée (PLM) route.
The train journey east from Marseille towards the Italian border is superb. The route has a grand, almost cinematic appeal when seen from the comfort of a TGV, but suddenly becomes more intimate when you experience it from one of the slower TER services.